This past Friday, my family and I welcomed our new baby into the ancient Covenant of Abraham with a ritual circumcision and naming ceremony.
“You shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin, and that shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and you. And throughout the generations, every male among you shall be circumcised at the age of eight days.” (Genesis 17:11-12)
Since the days of Abraham, Jews have been circumcising all male babies on their eighth day of life. In Hebrew, this ceremony is called a brit millah and is a joyous occasion marked with a festive meal, special prayers, and blessings for the newborn baby.
One of the highlights of the ceremony is the baby naming. As many of you know, my father, Michael Weisz, passed away just a few weeks ago. There is a strong Jewish tradition to name newborn babies after deceased family members. It was very special for my wife Abby and I to be able to pass on my father’s Hebrew name Meir Yitzchak to our newborn son. We bless our little Meir Yitzchak that he should inherit and absorb the many wonderful traits of his late grandfather.
Another age-old tradition associated with the birth of a new baby is planting trees in the Land of Israel. Just as a new life strengthens the People of Israel, planting baby trees strengthens the Land of Israel. I personally feel very connected to this tradition and was eager to add new life to God’s holy land upon the birth of my son.
A tree is the perfect embodiment of what a birth represents. Trees symbolize nourishment and strength, protection and continuity, Etz chaim hi lamachazikim ba – the Torah is a tree of life for those who take hold of it. In Israel, trees have even more significance. The planting of trees in Israel is the fulfillment of biblical prophecy as we partner with Hashem in turning the barren wasteland into Gan Eden, the Garden of Eden. And all of the beautiful trees that surround us, and that we benefit from, were planted by previous generations. Just like my fathers planted for me, so too I plant for future generations.
I purchased 16 baby trees- 12 hadas trees and 4 brosh trees from a local nursery. These trees, so fresh of color, life, and new potential, served as beautiful decorations and centerpieces at my local synagogue during the brit millah. Now, it is time to get these trees into the ground!
In Israel, the rainy season is upon us! In Leviticus 26:4, God promises that He will provide the necessary amount of rain in the proper seasons to ensure that the trees of Israel grow and produce their yield. I can not wait to get these trees planted and watch in awe and amazement as God does His part to make these trees blossom.
I was just introduced to a gardener who lives in the community of Tekoa. This community is located in the Judea hills. Tekoa’s views are breathtaking and the bursts of wind that fly through this town are rejuvenating and uplifting. The community of Tekoa is a microcosm of the People of Israel and consists of Jews from all walks of life. I am honored to be planting these 16 trees in the community of Tekoa later this week.
Abby and I have been so touched by the thousands of well-wishes and blessings for our new son. Dozens of Israel365 readers have expressed the desire to join my family in planting these trees.
I invite you to join me in this meaningful tradition. The birth of a new child is a particularly auspicious time to plant trees in God’s land. Help me mark this special occasion, by beautifying and strengthening the Land of Israel.
Our blessing to our son is that just like the trees that will be planted in Tekoa this week, he grows to become deeply rooted in the study of torah, the performance of good deeds and acts of loving-kindness in the Land of Israel.